SEATTLE, WA – February 24, 2011 – The 2011 Griffin King of the Hammers marked the 4th year of racing this epic event for Gipson Racing. With 3 years on the current chassis, Larry Gipson and Steve Peterson were miles ahead this year from the car’s humble beginning as a last minute concept 2 months prior to the 2009 event in a less than ideal carpet warehouse.
The 2011 event preparation began with success for Gipson Racing; an amazing starting position. Bart Dixon of Dixon Racing Enterprises, an OG13 member with lifetime entry into the race, invited Gipson Racing to join him in his 2011 position. Anticipation rose as the random starting positions were drawn; Dixon’s name was called to start in 18th place. Not bad out of 100.
A strong start is something that Gipson Racing is very familiar with; both 2009 and 2010 gave the team top 20 positions on course before DNF’ing due to electrical issues. After these years’ shortfalls, the team spent dozens of man hours addressing the problems; adding new parts, wiring and rewiring again to ensure an improvement for 2011’s race day. With the announcement of starting 18th with DRE for 2011, 2009/10’s troubles began taunting the minds of the team. A good starting position was one foot in the door, but syncing the rigs performance with the unbeatable position was the real pressure.
If this wasn’t pressure enough for the team, February 2010 marked an economic hit for Gipson. Despite the blow, this die-hard racer focused his energy on the key essentials in life – a new engine, the tow rig, front axle components and food – in that order.
Throughout the year, Gipson made every attempt to gather parts and funds to ensure these essentials were taken care of in order for the team to make the event on time. Priority one was achieved seamlessly with addition of a new 5.3L GM Vortec engine. Parts were gathered for the front axle, but luck was not on the team’s side for the tow rig – the parts failed to arrive in time for Gipson’s departure for the 25 hour venture to Hammertown in Johnson Valley, CA where the race was set to begin on February 11th.
Even the excursion to the event was filled with last minute details for Gipson. While in route, Gipson Racing made a pit stop at Tri County Gear in Pomona, CA to repair a hole in the steering system. Two days and 1800 miles later, Gipson Racing arrived in Hammertown, excited to meet up with their additional team members at the Dixon pit tent. Excitement quickly turned to anxiety as the team realized they had only two days to prepare the buggy for tech inspection, adjust the newly rebuilt FOA coilovers and install a new Spidertrax stub shaft. If that wasn’t enough to get in order, they still had to ensure an acceptable outward appearance. Luckily, Dixon, a Southern California local, was able to pick up and deliver a new Fiberwerx Toyota Tacoma Pre-runner body and Rolling Big Power grill to the event just hours before the race.
To top off the teams fabrication journey in true racers fashion, they finished assembling the rig on the starting line just in time to start the race.
With no sleep and little time to prepare equipment, the team was off the line. Luxury items like the helmet radio were forgotten by the wayside for this race; needless to say, communication was next to not existent for the majority of the first 30 miles of the race.
With Dixon as the driver, the team started strong as they passed team after team landing them in a top ten position for one of the toughest desert races in the world. Thirty minutes into the race lead the team into Outer Limits, the first real rock crawling section on the 100 mile course. With 90 of the best rock racers quickly barring down on the team, making it through wasn’t going to be a cake walk.
Not phased by the force, they continued their fearless pace as they attempted an off camber rock crawl obstacle. Even with a successful crawl, the right rear tire ended bound up in between rocks, not allowing the Yukon Spool any slip ending in a broken ring gear. Despite the broken rear differential, Gipson pulled the Masterpull XD Winch line out of the Tmaxx 9500 Winch and proceeded to progress towards the most difficult part of the trail.
While dealing with this set back, 20-30 additional teams had caught up to Gipson, forcing him to make a tough decision. He could keep his position by moving forward into the line of traffic and cause other teams to be delayed or move to the side to painstakingly repair the broken ring gear. Either way, his strong start had quickly turned to a simple hope to finish the race.
In an attempt to move to the side, Gipson knew what he had to do: winch the vehicle with only front wheel drive. As far out of the way as they could be, the team realized their only option was to have Dixon hike and travel 3 miles back to retrieve tools and parts to repair the rear axle on course.
In spite of Gipson’s own misfortune, he spent his time awaiting Dixon’s return by helping other teams negotiate the 3-line waterfall. The #911 single man team needed fuel and a winch, so Gipson lead him to the remote pit. Randy and Cottin Rodd, of Jimmy’s 4×4, had a poor running car, but with the support of Gipson, made it up the waterfall.
After supporting numerous teams to make it up and over the waterfall, it was finally Gipson’s shot – his crew had returned with the parts. Just as Gipson felt that luck was back on his side, it dawned on the team that without air powered tooling, they would be unable to remove the pinion nut on the Yukon 9” 3rd member. By this time dark was quickly approaching, so the entire crew decided to make the trip back to the pit tent together to properly rebuild the 3rd member.
The sun had set on the last trip back to the Gipson rig, but the sporadically placed shadows and high beams revealed other teams who had too surrendered to the hammers. Gipson called in the DNF on the final walk back to camp. With a long 4 days of traveling and racing behind the team, it was finally time to relax by the campfire and enjoy the company of friends. For Gipson Racing, DNF this year stood for Dedication Never Fails. Here’s to 2012.
About Larry Gipson: Gipson grew up in a car seat in the back of his father’s Jeep CJ-5. Jeeps and ATV’s have been a way of life for Larry since birth. Growing his operating abilities on his Big Red 3 wheeler, which turned his attention to full size dirt bikes and racing at the national level on his factory BBR Motorsports/Monster Energy Honda CRF. He eventually purchased a 84 Toyota which gave him his start to 4 wheeling and eventually racing his buggy in Ultra 4 Races from 2008-2011.
Gipson Racing Sponsors: MasterPull, BDS Suspension, designsByKeith, Yukon Gear, Pitbull Tires, Rolling Big Power, Fiberwerx, FOA Shocks, Xtreme Motorworx, Any 7 Offroad
About Keith Hook: A marketing mind and creative team player that met Gipson in 2008. With an understanding of Gipson’s abilities and marketing needs, recently joined the team in 2010 to focus on branding and bringing this young and dedicated team into the sport’s focus. Co-founder and partner at designsByKeith. dBK specializes in all forms of visual design, website design, marketing consultation, and printing services.